The Bible says Jesus had ‘Bowels of compassion.’ This isn’t a term we use today, but the biblical thought is powerful. We all have bowels. We can open or shut our bowels of compassion. We all know what happens when our bowels shut up. Compassion is a needed movement for every single one of us. When compassion doesn’t happen, and the longer it doesn’t happen, the more serious it becomes.
HEROES OF THE BIBLE
By Pastor Delbert Young
JESUS – A Hero Of Compassion
JESUS – A Hero Of Compassion
Scriptures: 1 John 3:17, Mark 10:14, 16, Matthew 20:32, 34
Of course, Jesus is the supreme HERO OF THE BIBLE. No Christ follower would disagree with that and it would seem silly to exclude Jesus in our HEROES OF THE BIBLE study. The problem is how in the world do we talk about the heroics of Jesus in 40 minutes? I will simply attempt to point out one of the many aspects that make him a hero, but one that doesn’t get much attention.
One of the areas that Jesus amazed people was his compassion. A definition of compassion is: Literally, suffering with another; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration. It means you feel someone’s pain. You have a sense of suffering with them. You feel their distress and associate with their misfortune. You want to do something to help. For example, if you have compassion, when you see someone struggling financially, you don’t just pat them on the back. You do something to help.
I was at a gas station not long ago. I had actually gone in to use the teller and men’s room. Judy was in the car. A young man approached me and asked me if I had a dollar, I would give him. He quickly told me his story. His car broke down and he didn’t have any money, but needed to make a call on a pay phone to get help. I couldn’t help but think, what if that was one of my children stranded and needing to make a call. What if that was I? I said sure, and gave him more than a dollar. He looked at me and genuinely said, “Thank you so much.” Now, I admit, there have been other times, others approached me asking for money in similar situations where I said, “No, I don’t have any money to give you.” What was the difference? Compassion. My compassion was excited in one situation, not the other.
Everywhere you go people are hurting and needing. People are discouraged. People have not only broken cars, but also broken dreams and broken lives. They’ve made mistakes. Now they are hurting and needing. No matter if it’s a mess they created, they need to feel God’s compassion. They need to feel God’s supernatural love. They don’t need someone to judge and criticize them. They don’t need anyone to tell them what they are doing wrong. They need someone to bring hope, someone to bring healing, and someone to show God’s mercy. They need someone to encourage them and listen to their struggles and to care. This world is in desperate need to see the love and compassion of our God. One thing our society lacks today is people with compassion. It lacks people who will love unconditionally. It needs people who will take time to help.
We are all so very busy. We all have our own plans and agendas. Most of the time, our attitudes are, “I don’t want to be inconvenienced. I have enough to do and enough problems of my own. I don’t want to add you to my list.”
1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and SHUTTETH UP HIS BOWELS OF COMPASSION from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
If there is no compassion, is there any love? We all have “bowels of compassion.” “Bowels of compassion” isn’t a term we would use today, but the biblical thought is powerful, though perhaps offensive. We all have bowels of compassion. However, we can open or shut our bowels of compassion. Staying with the biblical thought, we all know what happens when our bowels shut up. In other words, compassion is a needed movement for every single one of us. When it doesn’t happen, and the longer it doesn’t happen, the more serious it becomes.
God placed in all of us compassion. We all have the ability to feel what other people are feeling and allow their suffering to excite/move us, but here’s the question. Are your bowels of compassion open, or are your bowels of compassion shut? Are you concerned about other people, or are you only concerned about yourself? Do you take time to uplift and make people feel better about themselves? Do you follow the love you feel for someone God put into your life to move you, or are you too busy with your own plans?
We have to be sure we keep our compassion open and moving. We need to be on the lookout for people we can bless through compassion. We need to be willing to be inconvenienced, every once in a while, to meet someone’s need.
Jesus always took time for people and there was no one who ever had more on his plate than Jesus. He never became “too caught up” in his own agenda to open his compassion for others. Jesus would go down a busy street. If someone came to him and asked him to pray for them, he would stop and pray. For example, one day Jesus was in a very heavy, deep, and serious discussion with Pharisees and Sadducees concerning divorce, which led to a deeper discussion with his disciples. At that time people began bringing children for Jesus to bless. The disciples tried to send them away.
Mark 10:14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Jesus not only prayed for the children. He took every single one of them in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them. Imagine what that meant to those children and parents.
Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
I believe some of you have compassion for children, as did Jesus. You have a tremendous opportunity to do that right now in our Children’s Ministries. Above that, the children need you. Consider this amazing opportunity to bless our little children.
It seemed every day, sometimes several times a day, people came and Jesus responded with compassion. He would give fifteen minutes here, a half a day there, walk a mile out of his way next time. Repeatedly we read where Jesus had compassion for people. He never once said, “I’m too busy. I’ve got my own plans.” No, he was concerned with what people were going through. He willingly took his precious little time to help.
Many people are not experiencing life to its fullest because their bowels of compassion are “shut up.” When we do help, we hurry through it so we can get back to what we want to do. Jesus always took time with people. He was never in a big hurry. He didn’t see how quickly he could get rid of someone. Once, Jesus walked from Jericho to Jerusalem. It was his last week before his passion week began. There was a crowd of people following. As the parade crossed the path of two blind men they began yelling, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Everyone told them to be quiet. Don’t upset Jesus. He didn’t have time for them, but they yelled louder. Jesus finally heard them, stopped his parade, and went to them.
Matthew 20:32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
It was obvious what they wanted Jesus to do for them. They were blind, but Jesus wanted to take a little time with them and let them talk. He didn’t hurry through their experience. After they talked, he helped them.
Matthew 20:34 JESUS HAD COMPASSION ON THEM and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
Jesus had compassion after he let them talk. A reason many do not move in compassion is because we don’t take time to let people talk because we want to talk. They talked, Jesus had compassion, and then their healing came. There’s times when simply letting people talk and our listening with compassion will bring healing.
Many people have hurt and pain bottled up inside with no one to talk to about their pain. My wife is maybe the best I’ve ever seen with compassion for letting people talk and heal. I’ve watched her hold a phone to her ear for hours allowing someone to “receive their sight.” I’m not good at doing that. Not long ago, someone got me right after service and began to tell me, in great detail, a problem they were experiencing. They went on and on and on. Several times, I attempted to jump in and give my “great advice,” but I couldn’t get an opening. I had a great scripture to share and knew exactly what to tell them, but I could not get a word in edgewise. I was looking for any crack to give them my “great words of wisdom,” but there was no way. Finally, they stopped and as I was about to give them my “great wisdom,” they said, “I feel so much better after talking to you. I think I know what to do now,” and they turned and walked away. I almost chased them down to tell them what I thought. The truth is they didn’t need my thought. They simply needed me to show compassion by listening attentively. They just needed to know I cared. It worked. Their situation was healed. God can speak to people and tell them what to do while they are telling you their sufferings.
Jesus took time, stopped his parade, and showed those two blind beggars, and hundreds of others, he truly cared. “What do you want me to do for you. You have my total attention.” I wonder how many times Jesus asked that question? From his time and care came compassion and from compassion came healing.
Jesus followed his compassion. He realized it was God wanting to do something special for people. We feel compassion, but often we simply think we are feeling sorry for someone. We don’t realize it’s God wanting to do something. Have you ever gotten someone on your mind for no apparent reason? Did you follow that compassion, give them a call, and write them a note or email? I will be sitting at my desk studying my little heart out writing some “great lesson” and I, from nowhere get a thought about someone. I used to push it down and not think much about it. Now, I know it’s God wanting me to give them a call, or write an email. I can’t tell you the times when I was told, “Delbert, you just don’t know what your call meant to me. I was going through something and you calling helped me so much.”
I believe God is dealing with some of you right now concerning compassion for someone. God wants you to give them a call, take them to lunch, and show them God cares about them. When God’s compassion rises in us, it’s there for a reason. It’s not because God was bored and wanted to add something more to your plate to do. He’s trying to love and heal people through you.
In 1993 my mom died. After the funeral, Judy and I were at my mom and dad’s place and about to leave to come back home. Daddy walked out on the porch to tell us goodbye and as we drove off, I looked at him standing on his porch waving at us. I cried then and I cry every time I think about it now. I filled with compassion for my suffering dad. I told Judy that we would need to bring him to live with us soon. I knew I would have to follow my compassion. I couldn’t stop thinking about him all the way home and how my daddy was such a good man. He loved and adored my mother the way every man should love his wife. If husbands and wives loved each other the way my daddy loved my mother, it would be a different world. Daddy worked hard to provide for my mom, sister, and me. He was very proud of his family. I couldn’t have asked for a more loving supportive father. Daddy did come live with us for his last year. I had such great memorable times with him. One day when I took him to the doctor, I learned what we had been told was Parkinson’s Disease was actually the beginning stages of Dementia. I didn’t know what that was, but learned quickly. While he lived with us, he went on trips with Judy and me. He came to church with us. He pushed his walker to the altar and had communion. One of his favorite things to do was for me to fry fish outside. He loved to sit and talk to me while I cooked fish, fries, and hushpuppies. On the last one of those cookouts, daddy began crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “Come, and sit down beside me. I want to tell you something.” I did and he said, “Delbert Ray, you are the best son a father could ask to have. You loved your mother and you love me. You have taken care of me. I want you to know I am so proud of you and Judy and what you’ve done with your lives. And, I want to thank you for taking care of me and letting me live here with you.” Of course, it was a deep moment between us. My daddy had told me a million times during his life he loved me, but there was something special about that time. I told daddy I loved him and I would do everything I could to make his life good. We had a great father son talk. Do you know that was the last good talk my daddy and I had? It might have been that night, but it was within a day or two, I was helping daddy with his bath. I needed to help him up and down the stairs and get in and out of the tub to shower. That night, he was pushing his walker into his bedroom. I was a short distance behind him when I noticed daddy falling backward. I ran to try to catch him, but didn’t make it in time. He came down hard on the hardwood floor hitting and gashing the back of his head. I grabbed him, got him up, and sat him on the side of the bed. He seemed ok, but from that time on, daddy wasn’t daddy. There seemed to be something about that fall that released the Dementia. Soon, daddy became very confused about who I was, who Judy was, who my sister was, and about everything. We eventually had to put him in a hospice home and not long after that, I got a phone call. My daddy had died. I think often about that last fish fry and how good God is. Here, I was thinking that my dad living with me was only my compassion expressed for him. In reality, it was just as much for me as for him. How rewarded I feel knowing that the last day my dad’s mind was right, he told me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me and I was able to tell him how much I loved him and what a great daddy he was to me. But, what if I had been too busy with my life to have compassion for my daddy? What if I had not taken time, that day, to sit beside him while frying fish?
Most of the time when we reach out to people with compassion, we think we are doing it just for their sake and benefit. I can tell you first hand God puts that compassion in your heart just as much for your own benefit as for their benefit. You cannot bless other people without God blessing you back in return.
My challenge today is to be like Jesus when it comes to compassion. Take time. Follow your compassion. Be sensitive. When you follow your compassion, you are following God. If you will, you will be a hero to many and make a difference in many lives and God will bless you abundantly in return. You will be a HERO OF COMPASSION.
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